Dentistry and Your Heart

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Dentistry and Your Heart

Posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2016 at 9:11 am.

Keeping your mouth healthy is important for your overall health. Not doing so can lead to periodontal disease which may lead to an increase risk for heart disease and stroke. Several studies have shown a link with periodontal disease and heart disease.

One possible explanation for this association is that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can release toxins into or travel through the bloodstream and help to form fatty plaques in the arteries. These plaque deposits can cause blood clots, which can block blood flow. Another explanation is that plaque bacteria cause the liver to make high levels of certain proteins, which inflame the blood vessels. Inflammation eventually could lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Patients with certain heart conditions have a higher risk of endocarditis which is an infection of the heart. It happens when bacteria in the bloodstream attach to damaged heart valves or other damaged heart tissue and can be life threatening.

Some symptoms of periodontal disease are persistent bad breath; red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums; gums that have pulled away from the teeth; moderate to heavy tartar build up; and loose teeth or change in the way your teeth come together when you bite down.

Some drugs that treat certain heart conditions such as high blood pressure have side effects such as dry mouth, an altered sense of taste, or gum overgrowth.

It’s very important to practice good oral hygiene by meticulously brushing and flossing your teeth regularly to prevent plaque from accumulating and causing problems. Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of fluids can help combat drug side effects and keep you healthy. Your dentist will give you detailed oral hygiene instructions and may ask you to visit more often for professional cleanings. Make sure to inform your dentist of any heart issues since certain heart conditions may need antibiotics (to prevent endocarditis) before they have certain types of dental procedures. Before a dental visit, take your medicines as you normally do and make sure your dentist knows which drugs you are taking for your heart condition. Also if you have high blood pressure, your dentist should check your blood pressure at each visit. Your dentist can decide whether it’s ok for you to have non-emergency dental treatment.